How Getty's takeover of Flickr affects photographers and their income

Flickr users may have noticed that stock photo company Getty Images has just opened up the entire picture library to be considered for inclusion in the files of the mighty Getty, which they’ll then sell for thousands to agencies around the world. All you have to do is wait for the cheques to roll in. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Except that, when you look into it in more detail, it isn’t.

With the advent of digital and web publishing and the explosion of small-scale publishers, the economics of selling images has changed. Agencies such as iStockPhoto have sprung up offering lower prices, with many images produced by skilled amateurs. Publishers have turned to Flickr too, going straight to the source and cutting out the middle man. This shift has benefited the many photographers who would never have been able to get into the exclusive Getty club.
Getty‘s response has been to take over and snuffle out the competition – it’s aim is make it impossible for anyone to publish any pictures anywhere without paying Getty for the privilege. Having bought iStockPhoto and increased its prices tenfold on all the best work, it has now has turned its eyes on Flickr.

This move, in my view, represents the hijacking and commercialization by a powerful global corporation of what has been until now a hobbyist community website. The fact is Flickr users have always been able to sell their work to anyone who wants to use it. Potential buyers, including WDC, simply contact the photographer through Flickrmail and negotiate a mutually agreed fee. Flickr users have sold their pictures in this way for years, and many have made thousands of pounds this way. What will happen now (if you tick the box to allow it) is that if someone wants to use your picture they’ll have to go through Getty. They’ll have to pay much more to use it, and Getty will take a whopping 70% cut. You will be prohibited from selling these images yourself, and once in the system it will be very difficult to withdraw them later if you find that the deal is not the pot of gold you expected.

This arrangement will inflate the price of images on Flickr purely for Getty‘s benefit, but the photographers themselves, who get just 30%, may not be any richer than they’d have been by selling direct. Many publishers, WDC included, will baulk at paying twice as much for pictures just so that Getty Images can take 70% of it.

What is your opinion on this? Comment below to let us know. 

  • IiTambabyii

    FINALLY! What a great review! Many pepole mention the nifty fifty but as a DX lens it’s not as nifty as the 35mm. All of the shots were good, but the picture of the spaghetti and meatballs at 0:57 was just breathtaking for me. Hoping to buy this for my D5000 today

  • Cohiba

    JT do you think that pittsburg is getitn old and it is a matter of time before the bengals if they keep drafting well we could be the next team to control this division the ravens defence still very good is aging also. it seems domanating teams of the past are showing their age and eventually will have to rebuild. New England, Indy, pittsburg, ravens at times look old they are still good but cracks seem to be showing up. replacing quarterbacks especially the ones on these teams except flaco which i do not think he is anything more than a good quarterback will be hard to replace. the wind today will have a weird spin on todays game. which i think will favor the bengals.

  • Ru_007

    flickr is for fun not profit and users have to choose to allow getty to sell the image those of a profesional bent wil probably not select getty’s services and all getty will end up doing is reducing the quantity of images available for stock at near zero cost to a number of people who seem to think that if its on flickr – “the photographer is probably glad of the compliment and doesnt need payment.”

    having getty beat up a few thieves will do no harm.

    it would be a shame however to see getty go a stage further and claim the right to own or sell flickr immages – rther than simmply offering a dubious service to the unwary.

  • Bob Peffers

    Flickr will now just flicker out.

  • Nigel Atherton

    @ Jon – Getty will take all the best shots, and the photographer is then prohibited from selling those or any similar shots from the same shoot.

  • Roger Provins

    Don’t use Flickr. Simples

  • Mark

    I will Continue to sell my images myself. I simply won’t allow Getty to take money from me for doing absolutely nothing! Matter of fact I just sold 12 images this morning. Without the aid / interference of Getty!

  • Jon Bradbury

    I don’t believe that just because the Getty option has been added, doesnt’ stop people asking direct to licence an image that isn’t already on Getty. This means it actually opens up two potential streams of revenue, the direct flickr mail some people will use, whereas some bigger orgs who turn to Getty first anyway then have access to these images giving us a second income potential?